Luana Lourenço Reporter Agência Brasil
Brasília – On February 29, the United States announced it was suspending the a contract worth $355 million to purchase 20 Super Tucano (AT-6) aircraft made by the Brazilian aerospace firm, Embraer. The Super Tucano was selected in a competitive bidding process. Most of the aircraft would have been built in Florida, by Embraer and an American partner, Sierra Nevada Corporation.
On March 2, Under Secretary of State, William Burns, was in Brasilia and told Brazilian authorities that the problem was “administrative,” that is, involving documents, meaning the deal faced legal questions (sub judice). Burns said those problems would be resolved quickly.
However, it is known that an American aircraft manufacturer, Hawker Beechcraft, also questioned the deal with Embraer. Its headquarters is in Kansas and Republican congressmen have criticized the deal because it would mean a loss of jobs in Kansas and, perhaps, the closing of a aviation manufacturing center in Wichita. Hawker Beechcraft has reportedly gone to court to contest the decision by the US Air Force to buy the Super Tucanos. All this is a delicate issue in a presidential election year in the United States.
At the same time that the Super Tucano deal was put on hold, both Brazilian and American authorities quickly denied any connection between that deal and the long-pending Brazilian decision on new fighter jets. Brazil should soon select a manufacturer for 36 jets among American Boeing, French Dassault and Swiss Saab options. That deal is worth many billions of dollars.
President Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to visit Washington between April 9 and 11, for a meeting with Barack Obama (exactly a year ago the American president was in Brazil).
The presidents will discuss an ambitious program under which Brazil intends to send thousands to study in American universities (“Ciência sem Fronteiras”), along with cooperation in energy and trade questions.
Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English